Contact Information

(215) 438-5711

208 Lincoln Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19144
United States

Rittenhouse Town Historic District

Organization/Business type
rittenhouse town

At the heart of the thriving early industrial community known as Rittenhouse Town, the first paper mill in America was built.

It all began when, in 1687, papermaker William Rittenhouse followed other Quaker and Mennonite families emigrating to the newly formed neighborhood of Germantown (founded in 1683). William partnered with Philadelphia’s first printer, purchased a 20-acre plot of land along Paper Mill Run (a tributary of the Wissahickon Creek) and, with the help of his son Nicholas, built the first paper mill in British North America that otherwise could only be delivered from England. For the next 40 years, the Rittenhouse family were the only papermakers in America.

The Rittenhouse Mill quickly became the heart of this thriving, early industrial community. For eight generations, the rush of Paper Mill Run, the hum of the water wheel, and the clatter of horse hooves echoed throughout this narrow valley cut by the rapidly moving creek. As the first Rittenhouse home, the Homestead would also become among the first permanent home for the Mennonite community.

History and Preservation